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Old 10-26-2014, 12:58 PM   #1
TB0ne
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HandUPS versus HandOUTS


Had a similar thought on my mind for a while now, and seeing this post from onebuck:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...27-4175523395/

...echoes some of it. There are numerous posters here that CONSISTENLY ask questions and provide next to no details, and every thread takes numerous prompts to get ANY useful information at all.

Probably like most regular responders here, no one minds giving assistance, but the forum has become absolutely LITTERED with posts that show no effort AT ALL on the part of the poster. Things like:
  • Where can I download distro xxxx?
  • I need a script to do xxx.
  • Give link for xxxx
  • How do I install program xxx?
Ostensibly, the poster found LQ via an Internet search...and I can't help but wonder why they can't then do a TINY bit of research on their own. And many times when someone tells such a poster "Go look it up yourself", they're chided for not being friendly enough, or not making the poster feel welcomed.

I realize we strive to be friendly, but posts like these are (essentially) spam; a post with zero content, not even the ANSWERS add anything to the amount of knowledge that LQ provides to the community when others come looking, and it wastes the time of people who are trying to help others.

Is there some way a sub-forum could be created, where such threads could be moved? Or have those threads removed, and a message sent to the poster, directing them to a sticky-post about doing such basic research on their own first? That sticky-post could also have links to such things as the Red Hat download page, bash scripting tutorials, etc.

Just a thought.
 
Old 10-26-2014, 01:49 PM   #2
astrogeek
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This is obviously something on many minds including my own.

I too have recently thought of starting a similar thread, and onebuck's post and this one resonate well with my own thoughts.

The aspect most troubling to myself lately is the "Help Desk" attitude mentioned in onebuck's post. Some LQ members, both new and longer term, quite obviously view and use LQ as a help desk for their day jobs. These also seem to me to be among the greatest offenders when it comes to providing zero useful information, and least appreciative in interactions with those trying to help them.

Posts that begin "Hey Team!" or "Dear Staff" are worse than "Urgent!" and "Help!".

One thing very troubling to myself is that I recently reaalized that I have been participating less and less in LQ threads - directly as a result of this very phenomena. There is great reward in having helped someone solve a problem or learn some new skill. Not so much so in playing 20-questions with someone demanding and fully expecting you to do their work for them, while being more concerned with hiding their true tasks and hoping that you can guess close enough.

When I realized that about myself (that I was participating less), I also realized that several other long time active LQ personas have not been seen recently, and I wonder if the cause is similar. There is definitely a different trend in participation and personal interactions, and for the worse, in my opinion anyway.

It certainly has come to be a dominant and not so welcome part of the LQ atmosphere, in my never humble opinion. But it is very difficult to see a way around this in an open forum without alienating someone along the way, or harming the very atmosphere that you are trying to protect.
 
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Old 10-26-2014, 02:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
This is obviously something on many minds including my own.
I too have recently thought of starting a similar thread, and onebuck's post and this one resonate well with my own thoughts.

The aspect most troubling to myself lately is the "Help Desk" attitude mentioned in onebuck's post. Some LQ members, both new and longer term, quite obviously view and use LQ as a help desk for their day jobs. These also seem to me to be among the greatest offenders when it comes to providing zero useful information, and least appreciative in interactions with those trying to help them.

Posts that begin "Hey Team!" or "Dear Staff" are worse than "Urgent!" and "Help!".
Amen to that.
Quote:
One thing very troubling to myself is that I recently reaalized that I have been participating less and less in LQ threads - directly as a result of this very phenomena. There is great reward in having helped someone solve a problem or learn some new skill. Not so much so in playing 20-questions with someone demanding and fully expecting you to do their work for them, while being more concerned with hiding their true tasks and hoping that you can guess close enough.

When I realized that about myself (that I was participating less), I also realized that several other long time active LQ personas have not been seen recently, and I wonder if the cause is similar. There is definitely a different trend in participation and personal interactions, and for the worse, in my opinion anyway.

It certainly has come to be a dominant and not so welcome part of the LQ atmosphere, in my never humble opinion. But it is very difficult to see a way around this in an open forum without alienating someone along the way, or harming the very atmosphere that you are trying to protect.
Agreed, totally. I feel like sometimes it's a Catch-22 situation; if you tell someone "Go look that up yourself", you're nasty. If you look it up FOR THEM, chances are they won't say thanks, and it will only encourage them (or others who see that) to come back and post more questions just like that, until you get fed up and say "Look it up yourself!"...repeat cycle.....

That's why I suggested a sub-forum or post-removal with message to OP (in regards to bleedingly-obvious questions, like "Give link to the Red Hat download"). It wouldn't litter the forums, it would (politely) tell the posters to show some effort of their own, and give them some guidance for the future. Hopefully, they would then come backup with a genuine question, rather than a request for a Google search or a post with no details.

As far as posters who don't EVER provide details, that's a thornier issue, which could be written into the LQ Rules. Something along the lines of "Be sure to provide relevant details when asking a question. Don't say "the linux", but "Debian 7", and tell us what you did, what you've tried, and where you're stuck. Without details, we won't be able to help you, and your question will take MUCH longer to answer". That way, new posters who don't provide such things, can be directed to the rules; serial offenders could then be cautioned/temporarily banned for their behavior.
 
Old 10-27-2014, 08:37 AM   #4
Randicus Draco Albus
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I shall probably draw fire for this, but a big part of the problem is the current Linux user base. It has been overrun by people looking for, and having been lead to expect, a freeware version of Windows. Including the misconception that users' fora are a form of customer service.The best solution is something that is almost assuredly unacceptable to Jeremy; adopting an "old school" attitude. "We are not going to try answering your question, until you give us these details ..."; "That is basic information that can be found with a web search or by searching this board with search terms susch as ..." It is a bigger problem than LQ, with no easy fix.
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:47 AM   #5
cynwulf
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I agree that it's not really LQ causing this, you see a lot of this at other forums and it's those other forums which have probably played a big part in creating this problem and of course it is now seeping through...
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:53 AM   #6
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynwulf View Post
I agree that it's not really LQ causing this, you see a lot of this at other forums and it's those other forums which have probably played a big part in creating this problem and of course it is now seeping through...
I agree with the sentiment, but unless something is done, the behavior won't change. And while we may not be able to change OTHER forums, we can at least (maybe) effect change here. If posters come here with "Give me download link for Ubuntu!", and get their post deleted and receive a message saying "Don't do this again, show effort of your own", then one of two things will happen:'
  • They'll NEVER come back (and not to sound callous, but for a poster such as that, is that REALLY a bad thing?)
  • They'll get the message, and not do it again, and wind up being a valued poster
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:00 AM   #7
Randicus Draco Albus
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If posters come here with "Give me download link for Ubuntu!", and they are told to visit Ubuntu's website, they may also get the message. In other words, it is not necessary to go extreme by deleting posts (hopefully). Some such people will stay away, but there would be a better chance of most of them becoming contributing members. If they continue with their behaviour, tell them to go away.
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:26 AM   #8
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randicus Draco Albus View Post
If posters come here with "Give me download link for Ubuntu!", and they are told to visit Ubuntu's website, they may also get the message. In other words, it is not necessary to go extreme by deleting posts (hopefully). Some such people will stay away, but there would be a better chance of most of them becoming contributing members. If they continue with their behaviour, tell them to go away.
Sorry, they just don't get that message...and this is evidenced by the MANY posts you can easily find on LQ right now, with such requests. My point in deleting the post, is to not have the forums littered with junk. And if the OP receives the sticky-post mentioned before, they can probably find the link there.

Receiving the sticky-post with common links may solve their problem, and deleting a spam/no-value post from the forums will keep things better for other visitors here. Encouraging such behavior makes it worse, and it always does.
 
Old 10-27-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
dugan
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Onebuck recently put a sticky in Linux - General that deals with this:

"Now that we are all aware of your 'needs'. What are your 'deeds'?"
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:57 PM   #10
jeremy
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Thanks for the feedback. I'd consider any issue that is causing long time LQ members to lessen their participation here to be a top priority. I'd agree that this will not be an easy issue to address, but I do think we can hopefully make some significant improvements that will improve the everyday experience for LQ regulars. I'm not convinced that simply creating a new forum and moving some threads there is a good fix. It's arbitrary, requires mod intervention and in the end is just moving the problem somewhere else. It just doesn't seem in the spirit of LQ (and neither does just deleting threads). That said, I am open to further discussion on what we can do to make some solid noticeable improvements. One thing that comes to mind is to have a solid (well written, friendly, educational) canned response for threads that fall into this category. This would allow mods/members to expend a minimal amount of mental energy on an ongoing basis while hopefully improving outcomes long term. It's also possible we should tweak both the intro email and the next new members see when making the first $x posts. I''m open to other ideas as well.

I'm very interested in further feedback on this topic and all ideas are welcome. Let's figure out a solution that retains the elements that make LQ great. I'd also like to take this time to thank the members who do regularly participate. LQ is what it is because of you and I think the entire Linux community is better off for that.

--jeremy
 
Old 10-28-2014, 10:26 AM   #11
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I'd consider any issue that is causing long time LQ members to lessen their participation here to be a top priority. I'd agree that this will not be an easy issue to address, but I do think we can hopefully make some significant improvements that will improve the everyday experience for LQ regulars. I'm not convinced that simply creating a new forum and moving some threads there is a good fix. It's arbitrary, requires mod intervention and in the end is just moving the problem somewhere else. It just doesn't seem in the spirit of LQ (and neither does just deleting threads). That said, I am open to further discussion on what we can do to make some solid noticeable improvements. One thing that comes to mind is to have a solid (well written, friendly, educational) canned response for threads that fall into this category. This would allow mods/members to expend a minimal amount of mental energy on an ongoing basis while hopefully improving outcomes long term. It's also possible we should tweak both the intro email and the next new members see when making the first $x posts. I''m open to other ideas as well.

I'm very interested in further feedback on this topic and all ideas are welcome. Let's figure out a solution that retains the elements that make LQ great. I'd also like to take this time to thank the members who do regularly participate. LQ is what it is because of you and I think the entire Linux community is better off for that.
Thanks for even reading along, Jeremy.

It is a thorny problem, but even a quick look reveals MANY of these threads. Case in point:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...-a-4175523470/

If i had to guess, there are probably THOUSANDS of these on the forums from over the years, and at least 20 a month that I see. And they're just like spam..no content, and even if a link is provided, that link may become outdated, so anyone who comes across that thread in the future may not get any valid information from it. Which is why I suggested thread-removal and a PM to the poster with a sticky post, because that would keep this off the forums and get the poster information they need, but you're right...that isn't the best solution.

And while we should try to remain friendly, I think telling someone "Why can't you go look this up for yourself?" is a valid answer. If you can't take the question and translate it into a real-life situation, that means the question itself is suspect. For example, if you had a co-worker who came up to you and said "Give me some links where I can download RHEL7", would you DO IT? Or would you tell them to go look it up themselves? Would you hand someone a script after they got told to write one, or would you say "I'll help you, but I'm not going to do your work for you"? The posts here are the same thing, in my mind.

This is the sort of thing that builds on itself in either direction. If people keep getting spoon-fed links they can find themselves, they'll keep coming BACK to get spoon fed, and others will see it and THEY'LL want it as well. If they get told point-blank to look it up themselves and that's that, that will ALSO ripple out, and the spam will abate.
 
Old 10-28-2014, 12:14 PM   #12
onebuck
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Member Response

Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
Thanks for even reading along, Jeremy.

It is a thorny problem, but even a quick look reveals MANY of these threads. Case in point:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...-a-4175523470/

If i had to guess, there are probably THOUSANDS of these on the forums from over the years, and at least 20 a month that I see. And they're just like spam..no content, and even if a link is provided, that link may become outdated, so anyone who comes across that thread in the future may not get any valid information from it. Which is why I suggested thread-removal and a PM to the poster with a sticky post, because that would keep this off the forums and get the poster information they need, but you're right...that isn't the best solution.
I will leave jeremy to respond to your queries directed too him. I personally feel that the thread/post should be preserved unless a LQ Rule violation has been committed. We need a way to educate posters of this type. Not alienating them by rash or disrespectful replies. Best to caution on the side of reasoning by providing information that will enhance their LQ experience. Keeping this type of thread/post off the forum by deleting and not taking the opportunity to help by providing information to make this experience both informational and productive to everyone here at LQ. I take this quote to heart and it does help me to provide good information to fellow LQ members;
Quote:
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We Know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."- Samuel Johnson
This quote is another special quote that helps to model my LQ interaction(s);
Quote:
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life…that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
And while we should try to remain friendly, I think telling someone "Why can't you go look this up for yourself?" is a valid answer. If you can't take the question and translate it into a real-life situation, that means the question itself is suspect. For example, if you had a co-worker who came up to you and said "Give me some links where I can download RHEL7", would you DO IT? Or would you tell them to go look it up themselves? Would you hand someone a script after they got told to write one, or would you say "I'll help you, but I'm not going to do your work for you"? The posts here are the same thing, in my mind.
Yes, A gentle suggestion to look at/for helpful material or information can be presented. I come from academia so as to the co-worker queries, yes I would try to help that person to help their self. Most of my co-workers would know that they could freely come to me for any assistance at any moment. Academia is a environment for learning even between colleagues, not just students. If I approached someone to query or discuss an issue there would be no objections from a colleague. Much in the way I try to approach fellow LQ members here in a professional intelligent interaction. My LQ presence has been a learning curve. Mentoring is not the same as moderation here at LQ but an extension with enhancements. Growth within the environment depends on positive interactions to produce a viable product/result.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
This is the sort of thing that builds on itself in either direction. If people keep getting spoon-fed links they can find themselves, they'll keep coming BACK to get spoon fed, and others will see it and THEY'LL want it as well. If they get told point-blank to look it up themselves and that's that, that will ALSO ripple out, and the spam will abate.
Spoon feeding is not my original intent of "Now that we are all aware of your 'needs'. What are your 'deeds'?" but that there should be a general convention as to handle the situational posting(s) by LQ members. If you do read the linked thread OP, you will also see my address of respondents who inject incitement/provocative responses. Not helpful to anyone let alone a new member who has not assimilated to LQ's member set.

My intent was to provide a helpful informational thread for <Linux-General> and LQ as a whole. To bring to light what I see as a on-going issue with both new LQ members not familiar with forum protocol and to some of the LQ members that should be aware of proper response(s). I firmly believe that good intercommunication between intelligent beings can be performed without too much effort for all parties concerned. We must remember and respect that LQ is a world community that can exist with good public interaction between LQ members.

Three good references all LQ members should consider reading;
Quote:
FYI: I suggest that you look at 'How to Ask Questions the Smart Way' so in the future your queries provide information that will aid us in diagnosis of the problem or query.

FYI: How to Answer a Linux Question is ‘Simon Bridge's excellent composition to aid us in good informational exchanges.'

FYI: Netiquette is a set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks, ranging from Usenet and mailing lists to blogs and forums.
Hope this helps.
Have fun & enjoy!
 
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:02 PM   #13
frankbell
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I tend to agree with onebuck. Be gentle.

I was thinking about this thread today and realized that there is contradiction. Generally, as Linux users who frequent a place like this, we share a belief that more persons should use Linux. At the same time, we are expecting a level of sophistication that may be above the typical home computer user.

Consider, what as a typical home computer user of Windows or Mac know? He or she knows how to start a computer, log in, and use one or more programs. He or she likely has no idea of what's going on underneath or, when a problem occurs, how to troubleshoot it other than starting, for example, a Windows "troubleshooter" that does a bunch of stuff behind the scenes and does not report what it's doing or why it's doing it except in the most cryptic terms ("Now checking network adapter"). Heck, with Windows 7 introducing the remarkably stupid concept of "Libraries" in Windows explorer, an experienced Windows user might know nothing about directory structure and still be adept at the programs he or she uses.

That typical user is, frankly, ignorant of even the simplest concepts of the underlying OS, however he or she might be skilled in Photoshopping pictures or using even InDesign.

Perhaps when we welcome someone new, we could routinely point them to the "How to Ask a Linux Question" page; maybe a successful enrollment could jump or point to that page and suggest that it will help them get the most out of LQ (I've been a member so long I can't remember the details of how creating a logon worked).

One thing I do from time to time, if do a web search that was too obvious for words, is to include in my answer a sentence that includes the search result that looks most helpful and something like Seach string: "[some words or other]": I try to be very matter-of-fact and not in the least sarcastic--at least not intentionally--but rather just to educate OP a bit on how to help him- or herself the next time.

Just a few thoughts.
 
Old 10-28-2014, 02:10 PM   #14
jeremy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbell View Post
I was thinking about this thread today and realized that there is contradiction. Generally, as Linux users who frequent a place like this, we share a belief that more persons should use Linux. At the same time, we are expecting a level of sophistication that may be above the typical home computer user.
I could be incorrect, but I don't think the issue at hand here is the level of computer literacy or familiarity with Linux. It's the level of expectation, willingness to help current LQ members who are trying to provide answers with that process and general attitude of a small (but possibly growing) number of new LQ members. Thoughts on this?

--jeremy
 
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:22 PM   #15
jeremy
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From my perspective we have multiple places to potentially education new LQ members and acclimate them to the LQ culture/set reasonable expectations. One of those places is the welcome email. Here is the current text, which I think can be improved:

Quote:
Thank you for registering at LinuxQuestions.org. If you have not done so yet please read the ( http://www.linuxquestions.org/linux/rules.html ) rules. Feel free to introduce yourself in the LinuxQuestions.org Member Intro ( http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...php?forumid=24 ) forum. If you have any suggestions for the site please let us ( http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi....php?forumid=7 ) know.
The next is the text they see when they post a thread for the first time. We should probably highlight this for new members and possibly tweak it:
Quote:
Subject:

Bad: "Help Me!!" or "URGENT"
Good: "Why is my mouse pointer wrong?"
Best: "Mouse pointer distorted on XFree86 4.3 with Geforce FX 5200"
Quote:
You should include as much detail as possible in your message, including exact error messages (where applicable) and what you have done so far. The more detail you include the more we can help. You should also use the board's search feature to ensure that the question has not already been asked.
The third piece is a yet unwritten canned response for members who fail to follow these guidelines. This should be friendly, helpful and concise while also explaining the repercussion if not followed (which is LQ likely not being able to provide help for that member moving forward).

I'm open to suggestions and additional ideas from here.

--jeremy
 
  


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